O HOLY NIGHT
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Highlights: O Holy Night, Pie Jesu
It's difficult for any reviewer to review a child in an adult world. On one hand one can say that the child is very good for their age, but no matter how true that is, it has a condescending stench to it. On the other hand we could compare to them to their adult contemporaries, and this rarely puts the child's abilities in a good light as the adults are more developed. It is perhaps a testament to Jackie Evancho's advanced ability that although she is only ten years old, this isn't going to be a problem. Evancho does have inevitable physical restrictions (shortness of breath due to her child sized lungs) and only has two to three years of experience but that doesn't stop Evancho's talent matching adult classical crossover singers, and in some aspects, far surpassing them, particularly regarding her interpretation skills.
Maybe that is one of the many reasons that Evancho captured the American audience so strongly when she appeared on America's Got Talent only three months ago. It saw her independently released debut album, Prelude to a Dream, sell 4,000 copies in one week and feature in various American charts. The album was withdrawn shortly after and can now sometimes be found selling for hundreds of dollars on eBay. It is with great joy, then, that a readily available disc has been released so quickly for those who were not lucky enough to get their mittens on what is now a collector's item.
O Holy Night is an EP that consists of only four songs, but has an extra DVD of goodies - mostly her live performances on America's Got Talent, but an interview is featured as well as the video of her original YouTube audition which received the most votes from the public. Not much creativity can be expected from a CD released so quickly, and neither does one fully expect a varied track list when it's a Christmas EP, so all four songs are pretty safe and standard. Effort has truly gone into the arrangements and orchestral backing; they are not anything new but that's not what is appropriate here. Fittingly, the arrangements are traditional in creation and execution complementing the occasion and Evancho. The tracks feature a choir, giving the songs an authentic air but they fortunately stay firmly in the background, never threatening to drown out Evancho's haunting solo.
Evancho's performance has gone up several notches since the release of her debut album in 2009. Prelude to a Dream showcased a child with immense promise but one couldn't forget that they were listening to a child. Her vocal was wobbly and lacked the depth she has now that so shocked people when she first sang on America's Got Talent. Listening to O Holy Night in comparison makes it seem that ten years have gone by, not just one. Evancho's progress is nothing short of jaw-dropping, especially when listening to what is easily her standout performance on the EP: Andrew Lloyd Webber's 'Pie Jesu'. Her voice is rounded, secure, accurate, and most importantly, imbued with emotional depth that some adult singers cannot seem to grasp.
Ten years old, Evancho is; but a novelty, she is not. Whilst many of us buy albums from children to marvel at the promising talent of one so young, you can listen to O Holy Night and not even realise you are listening to a child, and that is the pivotal aspect that makes Evancho so special and so unmissable. Place Evancho's O Holy Night next to your Sarah Brightman and Hayley Westenra CDs, because she belongs there.
1. Silent Night
2. Panis Angelicus
3. O Holy Night
4. Pie Jesu
1. Panis Angelicus (YouTube Audition)
2. O Mio Babbino Caro
3. Time To Say Goodbye
4. Pie Jesu
5. Ave Maria
6. Interview with Jackie